For many former student athletes, it can be hard to find a job after graduation if they don’t go on to become a professional athlete. This is largely due to the fact that sports programs require a huge commitment from their athletes, with training, practice, constant travel, time in the film room, focusing on academics, and games leaving little time for internships or jobs during college. This can create challenges upon graduation because many employers require previous job experience. The logistics industry, particularly sales and carrier relations, has great jobs for former athletes, offering on-the-job training and a work environment that requires a similar camaraderie and drive to their athletic careers.
What is it like working in logistics sales?
Logistics sales is a unique career path that can offer great success to those who have a competitive spirit and a willingness to work hard. Logistics sales representatives work with shippers, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, who need their products moved anywhere in the world. They also work with reliable carriers to arrange transportation and load tracking for these companies. These loads can be moved via truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal and drayage, temperature controlled, air freight, heavy haul and more—depending on the shipper’s needs and location. The logistics sales representative is also responsible for providing consistent communication and updates to the shipper, as well as keeping in constant contact with the carrier throughout the process.
The logistics sales industry is a great place for young professionals to springboard their careers and offers great career options for athletes after their playing career comes to an end. It offers fast-paced, competitive work environments with unlimited potential for professional growth and high compensation.
Why is logistics sales a great career for former athletes?
Logistics is one of the best jobs for former athletes. This is because the logistics sales industry operates with the same characteristics that make successful student athletes: teamwork, passion, competitive spirit, and strong work ethic. These transferable skills can lead to great success within the logistics and transportation industry.
Teamwork is about bringing together distinct personalities with different individual goals who are willing to work hard—both for each other and towards a common purpose. Athletes have the unique ability to self-manage and improve themselves while working with their teammates to achieve a shared vision. This mentality can be applied to logistics sales and often leads to great individual and team success.
Passion is an essential trait that makes an elite athlete. After all, they wouldn’t devote so much time and energy to their sports if they didn’t have that drive and dedication to succeed. Many athletes have a passion to win and be the very best. The world of logistics sales is similarly fast-paced and competitive, offering the opportunity to overcome challenges and become successful.
In order to thrive in the logistics industry, a competitive spirit is a necessity. This is another parallel to being a successful athlete. Many have an inner drive to work harder than their opponents and even their teammates, giving them more motivation than they might have on their own. Logistics sales can offer an environment that requires competition in order to succeed, just like athletics.
Strong work ethic
The drive to succeed is an integral part of the mentality of college athletes, and it’s really what puts former athletes ahead of the curve in the logistics sales and transportation industry. In order for athletes to be successful in their given sports, they’ve had to work hard their whole lives by preparing mentally, training physically, and studying playbooks, all while remaining academically eligible. Generally, the student athletes who excelled are the ones who worked the hardest—which is the same mentality and work ethic that helps propel them into successful careers in logistics sales.
“Former athletes should really be aware of the logistics and transportation industry. It is a challenging, constantly changing, and rewarding career that transitions well from the field to the desk.”
Mike Crawford, President ITS Logistics, former NCAA student athlete and NFL player
Logistics sales is a perfect job for former athletes
At ITS Logistics, almost 25 percent of our logistics sales professionals are former NCAA college athletes, many of whom have seen great success in a short amount of time. They competed in sports such as football, baseball, softball, soccer and a multitude of individualized sports. Our training program is perfect for recent graduates who didn’t get to work side jobs or complete internships throughout their athletic careers. We don’t require much professional or industry experience to be successful at ITS. Through our unique and challenging training program, we invest in new team members and give them the tools they need to succeed in the industry. We also provide them with industry knowledge, proprietary training and career development that gives them a leg up on other companies and prepares them for success in our unique work environment.
“ITS is a great opportunity after your athletic career ends. Our training program is specifically designed to help you succeed in this new career path, we have a very energetic and competitive atmosphere, and even our sales floors are organized by teams. Our leadership team is very experienced with the difficult transition that many athletes go through when entering the professional world after sports has been their life for so long.”
Molly Campau, Director of Recruiting & Training
Q & A with Mike Crawford, President of ITS Logistics
What skills as a former athlete translate over to a career in Logistics Sales?
“The skills that were ingrained in me playing football in high school, college and the NFL that really translate are: teamwork, passion, competitive spirit, and a strong work ethic. Work ethic being such a key driver for me personally, considering I was a former college football walk-on/equipment guy. Teamwork is not just a clichéd word either, it really means something at ITS. It’s about bringing together different personalities with different individual goals and desires to work hard and fight for each other. Next up is passion, the amount of hard work, physically and mentally, the sacrifice you have to go through to really compete in any sport at a high level, takes a lot of passion. lastly, competitive spirit and work ethic, you have to want to work harder than the person across from you, even the person next to you. The players that really succeed in their sports—they’re the ones that work harder than anybody else. Sports breed that kind of mentality, and that competitive nature really shines through in our business. We love that in our employees and we really look for it in our hiring process. I think that’s a company culture that we’ve really embraced at ITS and we’ve had great success hiring former athletes to fit that culture, while still having a lot of fun too!”
What’s your best advice for former athletes looking to find a new career?
“Many of my former teammates and other athletes I knew in college and the pros aren’t being challenged in their careers after sports. They miss that competition and competing at that high level. I challenge all of these former athletes to keep that determination to be great. Stay in shape, stay sharp mentally, eat right, make the adjustments needed to be on top of your game now, just like you did when you were playing—but shift your focus to that next challenge, whatever career you choose. Attack it with that same passion and work ethic and let the chips fall where they may.”
Would you say former athletes have an advantage to being successful in business?
“Being successful as a college athlete or in a professional sport probably means you haven’t been able to get much real-world work experience, so it’s gonna be hard to start out. I mean it’s been go, go, go in your sport, and then it’s, now stop that thing that has absolutely consumed your life—and go get a job. You need to deal with the psychology of your sports career being truly over. And now what are you going to do next? But I think once they’re able to get that first start, get some on-the-job training, they’re really going to succeed if they can apply that same passion and desire to a new challenge. It’s not always easy, but we’ve seen that approach absolutely succeed at ITS.”
What if you weren’t one of the best athletes in your sport?
“Ha, it depends on how you handled that adversity. Many times, those athletes that aren’t the best or didn’t have the most skill are the ones that actually worked harder and over-achieved to be the best they could be. We love those types here.”
Any other advice for former athletes looking to start a new career?
“Former athletes should really be aware of the logistics and transportation industry. It offers challenging, constantly changing, and rewarding career opportunities that transition well from the field to the desk.”